mamayaga notes (among other things) the corruption in private US healthcare industry. Anon notes that the VA system is a really good healthcare provider. LeeB wants govt provided healthcare, and also public financing of elections (as a solution to a bunch of ills, including the healthcare problem):
"Wouldn't it be refreshing to have congresscritters who were working for US, and because they didn't have to spend every other waking moment raising money for the next election, they would have time to read bills before voting on them, among other things. Then lobbyists could be making appointments for meetings and leaving their checkbooks back at the office. And individual constituents would have better luck getting their own appointments, too. Whatta concept!"The american healthcare system is completely absurd to any of us who have lived anywhere else, and the election financing is perhaps even worse. The direct costs (per head) of an election campaign in the US is extraordinary - compared to say the UK - I can't remember the numbers - but i suspect that it's at least 10 times higher. The indirect costs probably magnify that by another 100-fold.
The bad news is that I havent seen anything to indicate any positive movement on the election financing front. the good news is that john kerry is trying to get something moving on the health care front:
"We are going to rescue health care by being bold and having the guts to try. I was at Faneuil Hall just a couple weeks ago laying out a plan to get health care for every man woman and child by 2012. There are 11 million children alone living in this country without health insurance. My KidsFirst plan, a part of a comprehensive health care plan, will actually save states billions of dollars and get every child covered. And I'm going to fight for this. Check out my plan at johnkerry.com, tell me what you think."Just to clarify - my 'purpose' of this series of posts has been two things. firstly, to note that there is a legitimate debate about when/where/how the private sector can/should be involved in delivering certain 'public' goods and services - and to tease out the nuances in the argument, and secondly to note that corruption is a serious problem in said delivery - regardless of who is providing the service.
A lot of the conversation has centered around, for example, the delivery of water - everyone seems to agree that water delivery should be a govt function. For example, here's anon:
"Water seems to me like one of the things you would least want to privatize. It's a natural resource that belongs to everyone -- and is also needed by everyone. The poor are as dependent on it as the rich, and lack of safe water leads to disease, which again affects everyone. The very idea that somebody ought to make a profit off it -- and be able to turn off the tap for non-payment -- is morally offensive.'I generally agree - but what if I wrote:
"Food seems to me like one of the things you would least want to privatize. It's a natural resource that belongs to everyone -- and is also needed by everyone. The poor are as dependent on it as the rich, and lack of safe food leads to disease, which again affects everyone. The very idea that somebody ought to make a profit off it -- and be able to turn off the tap for non-payment -- is morally offensive.'That's a little bit cheeky - but somewhat valid nonetheless - but we accept without even blinking that food is delivered via market environments. It's true that water-delivery is monopolistic and that the customers are 'captive' whereas people have options re food. I can't even remember what it used to be like when governments provided water - what happened if you didnt pay your 'rates' (as we used to call them here)?
A few people have jumped in with a "Halliburton" or an "Enron" - which is fine - but it doesnt really get to the core of the issue (public vs private provision). It's true that Halliburton is ripping of the govt and providing poor service (and is generally a criminal organization) - but it's also true that 1) the war was concocted by an evil government (albeit beholden to private interests) and 2) the troops don't have adequate armour etc.
Similarly, there's also the very valid argument against Blackwater (et al) mercenaries (again, in the context of public vs private) - yet all the technology and arms are purchased from (private companies) boeing and lockheed and the rest. again, i'm not arguing for one or the other - i'm simply noting that the lines that we draw are sometimes arbitrary.
and as i noted, if the system is broken and corrupt then it might not matter who is providing what.
romunov writes "Check Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway..." - and he's correct. all highly developed, functioning economies. Similarly, I'd offer New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Canada - and probably many others (in no order). It appears that there is a range of models which work - but the US is an outlier - which i suspect circles back to LeeB's comments about public financing of elections.
Can the US survive? Will it kill us all in the meantime? i dunno.